Wines with Vegetarian Fare


Wine Pairing with Vegetarian Meals for Vegetarian Awareness Month

Not that long ago, the vegetarian was the odd person out. At restaurants, a vegetarian meal was a cobbled together series of sides plus the house salad minus the bacon bits. Now, even local bar restaurants offers a vegetarian meal. And whether it’s for personal health and fitness reasons or for the well-being of the planet, people, including many celebs, are giving up meat at least one day a week in the “Meatless Monday” movement.

Grocery store deli departments seems to have more and more vegetarian choices, (NOTE: Forest Hills Foods in Grand Rapids has delicious vegetarian salads, and trays of lovely grilled and oven roasted vegetables, easy to grab and go.)
Prepared frozen vegetarian meals are no longer the sole domain of health food stores. Your local supermarket carries a wide selection of vegetarian dishes in the freezer section, in fresh produce, in deli. And the grocery stores are loaded these days with ingredients for preparing vegetarian dishes. Not merely healthy, but tasty!

  • All sorts of grains: different kinds of rice, barley, farro, quinoa, millet…
  • Nuts and seeds like chia, flax, sesame. Nut butters, Tahini…
  • In produce, an ever growing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and delicious fun cuts, from already diced onions and celery, to zucchini and carrot “noodles” or cauliflower and broccoli “rice,” or assorted greens, like kale…
  • Dried and canned lentils, black-eyed peas, kidney, black and cannellini beans…
  • Vegetable proteins: tofu, tempeh…
  • Great seasonings and marinades, dried wild mushrooms, spices, fresh herbs…
  • Asian-style rice noodles, flatbreads and wraps…
  • A proliferation of flavorful olive oils and vinegars, sauces and broth, soy and miso…

You get the picture. I, a meat eater, love what’s out there, thanks in good part to my son-in-law, who is a gourmet vegetarian (and wine lover!). And I appreciate the ease of shopping for it. I’ve even been known to order a vegetarian meal in a restaurant. And I always, always find a wine to pair.

Pairing Wines with Vegetarian Fare
Who says you’ve got to have meat for wine?  Here are tips on pairing vegetarian fare with red or white wine. The rules are pretty much the same. You want to pair to tastes and textures. So it’s all in the preparation, the flavors, the herbs and spices. Pairing wine with vegetarian meals is no different than pairing with meat; the same concepts apply. A light meal requires a light, crisp wine; a savory meal requires something more full-bodied.

  • Hot spicy food needs a chilled sweeter wine, like Riesling or White Zin or Lambrusco.
  • Lemony and light pastas pair with crisp, dry but fruit forward Pinot Grigio.
  • Aromatic dishes like vegetable curry, or German food or aged cheeses like aromatic wines like Gewurztraminer, Chenin Bland or Viognier.
  • Salads with fruit or blue cheese dressings like Moscato.
  • Buttery dishes with potatoes, butternut squash risotto, cheese sauces pair well with Chardonnay.
  • Veggie burgers, pasta with pesto sauce or dishes with difficult to pair vegetables like artichokes avocados and asparagus need a grassy, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc
  • Mushroom or Asian dishes, legumes, or dishes with fruit sauces, or ripe, runny Camembert love silky Pinot Noir
  • Char grilled veggies, light Italian dishes pair well with a Cotes-du-Rhone Red or a Spanish Garnacha.
  • Dishes based on sweet potatoes or that have rich red wine sauces match Merlot.
  • Medium to full bodied dishes with barbecue sauce like a Malbec.
  • Pizza or pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, call for Italian Barbera or a young Sangiovese. 
  • Mexican & Latin American food, rich foods, pizza pair with a full-bodied, tannic Petite Sirah or a Zin
  • Grilled or roasted veggies, barbecue sauce, chimichurri, garlic and onion, aged cheddar, those strong flavors stand up to the tannins and full body of a Cab or a smoky Syrah.

Quick and Easy Japanese Green Tea Noodles
Serves 4

  • 3 bundles pack of Japanese green tea noodles
  • ½ C of green onions, chopped
  • ½ C cucumbers sliced into thin, long strands and rinsed in cold water
  • 2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBS garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 TBS sesame oil
  • 3 TBS Earth & Vines Sake, Pineapple, Teriyaki Marinade
  • Kosher or sea salt (for water)


  1. Cook noodles in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, drain and rinse.
  2. While noodles are cooking, heat a large pan to medium, add sesame oil and garlic cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Turn heat off and add cucumber, chives, lemon juice and teriyaki marinade.
  4. As soon as the noodles are ready, drain and toss with the sauce.
  5. Serve warm--or cold. (For carnivores, this is a great accompaniment to grilled salmon! Enjoy!

Pair With: A dry Riesling like this year’s Double Gold, Best of Class winner of the Michigan Wine Competition: Verterra Leelanau Peninsula Dry Riesling

Coconut Lime Jasmine Rice
Serves 4

  • 1 C jasmine rice
  • 1 C water
  • 1C coconut milk
  • ¼ C minced cilantro
  • 3 TBS fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 TBS Mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 TBS Sweet Chili Sauce


  1. In a medium sauce pan add rice, water and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 20 minutes with lid on until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Make dressing my whisking together lime juice, Mirin, chili sauce and cilantro
  3. Stir dressing into rice and serve with salmon.

Pair With: a chilled semi dry to semi sweet Michigan white wine. Oriental flavorings invite aromatic, slightly sweet wines that can be chilled. Serve with this year’s Double Gold, Best of Class winner, St. Julien Toast of the Town White.

And here are a couple of recent favorites:

Mediterranean Farro Salad for Four
I had a wonderful fresh, light farro salad last week in the café at the Detroit Art Institute. I tried to recreate here:

Salad Ingredients:

  • 3 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 C uncooked farro, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and finely-diced
  • ½ C roasted red peppers
  • 1 C tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 C crumbled feta cheese
  • Half a medium red onion, finely diced (about 2/3 C)
  • 1/4 C finely-chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 1 small-medium clove of crushed fresh garlic
  • pinch of salt of kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Stir together stock and farro in a medium saucepan, and cook according to package instructions until al dente.  Remove from heat, and drain off any extra stock once the farro is cooked.  Let farro cool for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer farro to a large mixing bowl, and add in remaining ingredients, including the vinaigrette.  Toss until combined.
  3. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  4. Whisk all ingredients for vinaigrette together until combined.  Use immediately.

Pair With: our new Corvo Bianco from Sicily, a delicious blend of Insolia, a grape indigenous to the region, and Chardonnay.

I love chili and Sloppy Joe sliders as it starts to move into the invigorating fall weather, and frequently just use a can of drained cooked lentils in place of the meat mixed with a can of vegetarian chili or Sloppy Joe mix or sauce. I set out to find an interesting alternative. Here’s a slow cooker recipe I found and doctored up with some herbs and spices:

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili
Serves 6


  • 30 oz. can of unsweetened pumpkin
  • 30 oz. can of chopped tomatoes with the juice
  • 30 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 oz. jar of chilies in adobo sauce
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow onion small, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium clove of garlic fine chopped
  • 1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 C goat cheese crumbled
  • ¼ C minced fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges


  1. In a large skillet, heat a couple of TBS of olive oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, garlic, and onion, and cook until softened.
  2. In the slow cooker, combine the pumpkin, tomatoes, black beans, and chili in adobo sauce.
  3. Add sautéed veggies to slow cooker, and mix together.
  4. Add spices and herbs with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  6. Serve topped with goat cheese and cilantro and a wedge of lime

Pair With: our new Clarion des Anges Red from the Rhone Valley, a medium-bodied red, and new customer favorite.

Roz Mayberry
About Roz:

During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.

Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.